A car bomb exploded outside a compound housing Westerners in Kabul on Wednesday hours after President Barack Obama signed a security pact during a short visit to a city that remains vulnerable to a resilient insurgency.
Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on the eastern outskirts of the capital that killed at least six people, a Gurkha guard and five passers-by, and wounded 17. A young girl was among those killed.
The Taliban said it was in response to Obama’s visit and to the long-term strategic partnership deal he signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a pact that sets out a long-term U.S. role after most foreign combat troops leave by the end of 2014.
Obama’s visit came a year after U.S. special forces troops killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the architect of the September 11, 2001 attacks, in a raid in neighboring Pakistan.
In a televised address to the American people from a base north of Kabul, he said the war in Afghanistan was winding down.
“As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it’s time to renew America,” Obama said, speaking against a backdrop of armored vehicles and a U.S. flag.
“This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.
Nearly 3,000 U.S. and NATO soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the Taliban rulers were ousted in 2001.
The Taliban, ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces for harboring bin Laden and other militants, quickly claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack at Green Village, one of several compounds for Westerners on the main road heading east out of the capital.
“This attack was to make clear our reaction to Obama’s trip to Afghanistan. The message was that instead of signing of a strategic partnership deal with Afghanistan, he should think about taking his troops out from Afghanistan and leave it to Afghans to rebuild their country,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location. REUTERS